You almost persuade me to become a Christian (Acts 26:28)
We have followed the book of Acts and seen the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the people in the New Testament church. We have followed the life and ministry of Paul. We have read his testimony before Governor Felix in chapter 24 and heard Felix reply Paul: "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you."
Felix put off a decision about what he was going to do with what he knew about Jesus. Now, in chapters 25 and 26 we see Paul giving his defense before King Agrippa and Governor Festus. What is it that Paul shares with us that we need to be?
We must know that we have personally come to a place in our life when we have settled it once and for all - I have asked Jesus to forgive my sins and take charge of my life. Notice, when Paul gave his defense in front of these leaders, he refers back every time to when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Verses 12 to 18 again relates this conversion experience. Paul was on his way to put Christians in prison, and from there they would be put to death. He saw a light from heaven which blinded him, and he heard the voice of Jesus from Heaven saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads." When Paul asked, "Who are You, Lord?" Jesus said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." Life's two most important questions were asked by Paul that day. "Who are you, Lord?" and then, "What do you want me to do?" And Jesus told him a step at a time what he was to do.
Get this straight: We cannot change our own lives. No amount of self-help philosophies will help us. No amount of education will change our hearts and forgive our sins. Only Jesus Christ, the spotless, sinless, Son of God has died in our place for our sins can clean up our hearts. We need to accept His death for us on the cross personally. He alone can forgive us. Then, we need to go on from there and DO WHAT HE TELLS US TO DO!
Jesus told Paul to stand on his feet. (GET UP!) (Don't stay moaning about your great sin. Get up and get going!) Jesus said He was going to make Paul a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which Jesus will yet reveal to him. Jesus promised to be with him, to deliver him from the Jewish people as well as the non-Jews who would try to kill him.
How could Paul do this? He couldn't even see! The light from heaven had blinded him! First, Jesus forgave Paul. And, then He led Paul step by step to a Christian by the name of Ananias. This man was at first afraid to speak to Paul, knowing that Paul had the authority to put the Christians in prison. Yet, at the instruction of the Lord, Ananias went to Paul, called him brother Paul, and told Paul to receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul did this, and showed to those there that he believed by being baptised, Then he began to share with others that Jesus is the Son of God.(see Acts 9:1-20)
Jesus told Paul he must "open the eyes of the Gentiles, and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me."
Paul testified to King Agrippa that he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.
Satan would like to have us believe that we cannot obey God. But, here, Paul is saying he was not disobedient to what he was told to do. We CAN walk in obedience to Jesus, by His grace, not by our strength.
We CAN reflect HIS LIGHT to the world in which we live.
Festus said "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" Festus just thought Paul was crazy. Sometimes the people we know think we are crazy to believe in Jesus, don't they?
King Agrippa, who knew much more about the Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets, did not say that to Paul. And, Paul said to King Agrippa, "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe." Agrippa's response to Paul was: "You ALMOST PERSUADE me to become a Christian." (verse 28) Paul said he wished that instead of being almost persuaded, the King would be just like himself, except for the chains.
Are you "almost" or fully persuaded to know the Lord, to see the lost all around you and to reflect the light of Jesus?
Almost is not enough. "Almost" is to be lost.
One young man told a friend that he did not wish to become a Christian. "Why not?" asked his friend. He replied: "Several years ago I was selling from door to door and was invited into a house to show my product to the wife and children. While I was demonstrating, the husband came home, swore at me, and kicked me out. He was a professing Christian. From that time I decided never to have anything to do with religion. His friend asked him, "Would you write down your reason in full and sign it?" With hesitation, the young man did as asked. Then the paper was handed back to him with these words: "Keep this, and when you are asked for your excuse on the Day of Judgment, hand this to God." (from Leslie Flynn, Come Alive with Illustrations p. 137)
We can use all the excuses we want as to why we have not given our lives over to Jesus. We may say we are "almost" persuaded to be a Christian. "Almost" is not enough. Almost is to be lost.
Where do you stand with Jesus? Has He forgiven your sins? Are you following Him in obedience? Are you reflecting His light to others? Are you turning others from the "power of Satan to God?"
Adam Clarke shares these words about verse 18: "By remission of sins, i.e., the removal of the guilt and pollution of sin, they become children of God; and, if children, then HEIRS. And as the inheritance is said to be 'among them which are sanctified,' this is further proof of not only the forgiveness of sins, but also the purification of the heart." (A. Clarke 1 Vol. Ed. Commentary, p.1028)
The best time to make a decision about Jesus is NOW. Let us pray.
Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.
Holiness, godliness, righteousness, and Christ-likeness in personal and church life